Fort Lee Celebrates Centennial of Keystone Studio
Images of the highly touted, Fort Lee Film Commission-produced musical, “Mack and Mabel,” at Fort Lee High School.
Fort Lee High School students performed the Jerry Herman musical, “Mack & Mabel” Friday and Saturday.
The musical, produced by the Fort Lee Film Commission, is about the founding of Keystone Studio in Fort Lee in 1912 and the relationship between the studio’s founder, Mack Sennett, and his star comedienne, Mabel Normand.
Fort Lee High School Drama Department teacher Jodi Etra directed the production.
“[The play] was an important Fort Lee Borough event in that via the Fort Lee High School student actors and the Fort Lee Film Commission we celebrated the centennial of the founding of a great American movie studio, Keystone, in Fort Lee in 1912,” said executive director Tom Meyers of the Fort Lee Film Commission. “The production incorporated rare archival film as a backdrop for the action onstage. The Fort Lee Film Commission acquired the rare 1912 Keystone film, A Grocery Clerk's Romance, from film archivist Paul Gierucki. This, one of Keystone Studio's first films, was shot outside Rambo's Saloon on First Street in the Coytesville section of Fort Lee, and that very building still stands today.”
The rare film footage opened the program at the high school auditorium on Friday evening and for two performances on Saturday.
“Fort Lee High School seniors Jonathan Portee and Sarah Moore brought Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand to life,” Meyers said. “The entire cast of student actors helped the Fort Lee Film Commission tell this important chapter in American film history that occurred here on the streets of Fort Lee.”
Funds raised Friday and Saturday will go to high school drama department programs like an October Shakespeare workshop, according to Meyers.
“The Fort Lee Film Commission, thanks to donations from The Artist's Collective, will take all the student actors to see a performance of ‘Godspell’ on Broadway, and to have a Q&A with cast members following the May 29 performance,” Meyers said.